Conservation of dwindling fish stocks is being severely hampered by poor controls on global trade, according to research published today (Monday, October 9, 2017) in Nature/Scientific Reports.
The study carried out by the Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre at the University of Salford looked at global production and trade statistics of the popular ‘snapper’ fishes and uncovered wide inconsistencies in records meant that the officially reported snapper trade may be underestimated by more than 70%.
Major discrepancies were found between imports reported by the USA, the world’s largest consumer of snapper, and exports declared by its chief suppliers – Mexico, Panama and Brazil.
New Zealand reports hefty snapper exports but the study suggests that the traded fish is actually silver seabream – local referred to as ‘snapper’, but belonging to a different fish family. Consequently, global snapper exports are inflated by almost 30%. The discrepancies, they suggest, are likely to happen for other valuable and exploited fish that do not have detailed trade codes, such as groupers, croakers and the orange roughy.
“Without the ability to accurately track fish species in trade, or to link provenance with consumption, vulnerable stocks of snapper and other fish may be overexploited instead of protected,” said Stefano Mariani, professor of conservation genetics.
“Equally problematic is that rare species are being traded under the radar, with consumers being sold a different product to the name on the label, both in shops and restaurants.
“Worryingly, the current flaws in trade regulations even allow “bovine” as a label, allowing firms to illegally trade wildebeest, buffalos, bison, gazelles, springboks etc, unnoticed.”
Part of the problem, the team concluded, is that the global trade classification system treats fish with a broad brush description, allowing heavily-exploited species to be lumped under generic trade codes.
“The snapper family comprises more than 100 species; highly variable in number, distribution, value and vulnerability to overfishing. Yet, these species largely lose their identities once they are hauled from the water and shipped to foreign destinations,” said lead researcher, Dr Donna- Mareè Cawthorn.
Cawthorn used “mirror statistics”, comparing export and import statistics drawn from customs databases for every country trading in snappers, and cross-checking the data against official snapper trade reported to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
“The total global imports of a commodity should be equal to the global exports, whenever you spot mismatches, it means that there is some country that is not reporting either some import or some export, or both,” she said, adding that unreported trade could potentially involve illegally-caught produce.
Snappers are one of the USA’s most prized seafoods, with fresh fillets potentially fetching upward of $75 per kilo. The red snapper is currently at the centre of a battle between the Trump administration and conservationists who say recreational fishing is endangering the species.
The Latest on: Global fish catches
- Dead fish carry mercury into ocean’s deepest trenchon November 24, 2020 at 10:52 am
"Mercury that we believe had once been in the stratosphere is now in the deepest trench on Earth." Here's why that important.
- Sadc records increase in fish productionon November 23, 2020 at 2:11 pm
The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has recorded an increase in aquaculture production which rose to 100 950 tonnes in 2020, from 92 773 tonnes reported in 2019. Ocean and inland waters ...
- Why eat fish?on November 22, 2020 at 1:49 am
EATING fish can provide powerful advantages for the heart and brain, yet Americans eat less than half of the 26 pounds per year that experts recommend. By contrast, Americans buy seven times more ...
- World - New Genetic Tools Will Deliver Improved Farmed Fish, Oysters, and Shrimp. Here's What to Expecton November 19, 2020 at 10:00 pm
Two years ago, off the coast of Norway, the blue-hulled Ro Fjell pulled alongside Ocean Farm 1, a steel-netted pen the size of a city block.
- How smart nets and scanners could keep more fish in the seaon November 19, 2020 at 5:58 pm
Commercial fishing is draining our oceans of life, with trawlers catching fish faster than stocks can replenish. The European Union is hoping that smart technology can help fix the problem.
- Tomorrow's catchon November 19, 2020 at 1:28 pm
Genomic technologies promise dramatic gains for aquaculture by accelerating the breeding of better strains. Two years ago, off the coast of Norway, the blue-hulled Ro Fjell pulled alongside Ocean Farm ...
- Kenya: Fish Imports From China Drop By Half to U.S.$9 Millionon November 18, 2020 at 7:13 pm
Data on fish trade from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) obtained by the Nation shows that China's fish exports to Kenya dropped by almost 50 per cent as a result of the global ...
- Raw fish stunt grabs global attentionon November 18, 2020 at 3:55 am
Former Minister of Fisheries Development Dilip Wedaarachchi caught global attention, following his stunt of eating raw fish in a bid to promote fish sales in the country. ..
- A Malagasy community wins global recognition for saving its lakeon November 18, 2020 at 1:37 am
For centuries, Lake Andranobe in Madagascar’s central highlands has nourished the surrounding communities. Over the past 16 years, its dependents have come together to restore the ailing lake. Now, ...
- Fish carcasses deliver toxic mercury pollution to the deepest ocean trencheson November 16, 2020 at 12:02 pm
The sinking carcasses of fish from near-surface waters deliver toxic mercury pollution to the most remote and inaccessible parts of the world's oceans, including the deepest spot of them all: the ...
via Google News and Bing News